Pubdate: Mon, 30 Aug 1999
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 1999 The Seattle Times Company
Author:  David Ho, The Associated Press


WASHINGTON - Teenagers who don't get along with their fathers in
two-parent families are more likely to smoke, drink and use drugs than
those raised by single mothers, according to a new survey that
examines how different family types affect youth substance abuse.

Children raised by their mothers alone were 30 percent more likely to
use drugs than those living in supportive two-parent homes. But those
with two parents who have poor relationships with their fathers have a
68 percent greater risk, said a report today by the private National
Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

"This should be a wakeup call for dads across America," CASA Chairman
Joseph Califano said in a statement. "Every father should look in the
mirror and ask: `How often do I eat meals with my children? Take them
to religious services? Help them with their homework?' "

In the survey of 2,000 youths ages 12 to 17 and 1,000 parents, more
than twice as many teens said they found it easier to talk to their
mothers than their fathers about drugs. More than 70 percent said they
had very good or excellent relationships with their mothers, but only
58 percent said they got along as well with their fathers.

Mothers influence their children's important decisions three times as
often as fathers and are more likely to have private talks about
drugs, the study found.

Speaking to children about drugs should start early because "the
opportunity for parents to impact their teen's thinking about illegal
drugs diminishes as the teen gets older," the survey's authors said.
They found that 34 percent of 12-year-olds reported excellent
relationships with their parents, but that number plummets to just 14
percent by the time the children turn 17.

The study also found that while the teenagers said facing drugs was
their most important problem, the parents ranked drugs second, after
the social pressure of "fitting in" with the teens' peers.

The survey also found:

- -- Teens who reported their fathers have more than two drinks a day
have a 71 percent greater risk of substance abuse.

- -- Nearly 90 percent of teens said they felt safe in

- -- More than half said they attended a school where drugs were used
and 20 percent said that if they wanted to buy marijuana they could
get it in less than a half-hour.

- -- Almost half of teens who had never used marijuana credited their
parents with their decision.

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